Braves' Charlie Morton admits chance to join Red Sox was 'enticing'

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Why Red Sox were 'enticing' to Charlie Morton in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Both Charlie Morton and the Boston Red Sox got a glimpse of what could have been Tuesday night.

Morton dazzled for the Atlanta Braves against the Red Sox in their series opener at Fenway Park, allowing just one unearned run on three hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings.

Morton might have had extra motivation: The 37-year-old right-hander grew up a Red Sox fan in southwestern Connecticut.

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"This is a special place for me," Morton said about Fenway Park after the game, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This is a real special place for baseball. … Getting a chance to play against a very, very good team in a special place, that was pretty cool."

That "special place" was nearly Morton's home in 2021. The Red Sox reportedly made a "competitive offer" to the two-time All-Star in free agency, and the lure of playing for his childhood team and manager Alex Cora -- who was with Morton in 2017 as the Astros' bench coach when Houston won the World Series -- almost led him to choose Boston.

"Knowing Alex, having a chance to speak with some of the guys over there, getting a chance to play in this park, put on that uniform, all those things were very enticing," Morton said.

But the Braves, who drafted Morton in 2002 and play close to his current home in Bradenton, Fla., eventually won out.

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"Ultimately I was weighing a lot of factors," Morton said. I made my (major league) debut with the Braves. I knew people in the organization, and I knew how special and talented this group was, one game away from going to the World Series last year. I knew there were good people here, and also just the proximity to home (in Bradenton.

“It was a hard decision, but I certainly respect that (Boston) organization."

That respect is mutual: Morton owns a 7-1 career record against the Red Sox and has been particularly dominant at Fenway Park, with a 4-0 record and 2.57 ERA over five starts.